Lillard, Blazers top spiraling Nuggets
Denver, CO (SportsNetwork.com) - Damian Lillard flirted with a triple-double, posting a game-high 31 points to go with nine assists and seven rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers held off the Denver Nuggets for a 100-95 win at Pepsi Center.
Nicolas Batum added 16 points, Mo Williams had 14 and Robin Lopez scored 12 points to go with 10 rebounds and seven blocks for the Trail Blazers, winners in three straight.
"We got up on them and they turned it around, they picked up their energy," said Lillard. "The game was going our way because we were executing, flying around, getting stops, (but) we kind of relaxed."
J.J. Hickson scored 16 points and pulled down 25 rebounds -- 15 offensive -- and Randy Foye scored 17 for the Nuggets, losers in three straight and eight of their last nine overall.
After Foye tied the game with a jumper at the 8:10 mark of the first quarter, the Blazers opened up a 21-8 swing to go up 32-19. Hickson made a pair of free throws late in the frame to make it 32-21 after 12 minutes.
Denver pulled within three, 36-33, after a Wilson Chandler layup, but a 9-2 burst from Portland gave the visitors a 45-35 lead. Denver then rattled off a 10-2 swing, capped with a Chandler triple, to make it 47-45, but the Blazers scored five unanswered to make it 52-45 at the break.
Portland's spread reached 18 in the third quarter and the Blazers led 82-69 entering the final frame.
A Kenneth Faried hook shot with 2:51 left had the Nuggets within two, 90-88, but a Lillard finger roll, followed by a pair of Wesley Matthews free throws, pushed the spread back to six, 94-88.
Denver never got closer than four the rest of the way.
"The effort was better," said Nuggets coach Brian Shaw. "I liked the fact that they saw that when they compete it gets the crowd into the game. For the first time in a long time you could really feel the crowd behind them."
Portland was 32-for-38 from the free throw line ... Dorell Wright scored 12 and Matthews finished with 11 for Portland ... The Nuggets outrebounded Portland 64-41 and outscored the Blazers 54-26 in the paint.